Fingerprinting paper

Center for Information Technology Policy » Fingerprinting Blank Paper Using Commodity Scanners

We introduce a new method for measuring the three-dimensional surface of a page using only a commodity scanner and without modifying the document in any way. From this physical feature, we generate a concise fingerprint that uniquely identifies the document. Our technique is secure against counterfeiting and robust to harsh handling; it can be used even before any content is printed on a page. It has a wide range of applications, including detecting forged currency and tickets, authenticating passports, and halting counterfeit goods. Document identification could also be applied maliciously to de-anonymize printed surveys and to compromise the secrecy of paper ballots.

I wonder how big the signature for identification is — you’ve only a few dozen megabytes of information total in the scan, but you want to be able to identify subsections of that and so forth…

And of course when the Paper Patrol starts insisting that every sheet coming out of the pulp mills gets recorded, that will only be a few billion petabytes of storage every year. Beats watermarking all to hell.


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